Fantasy Baseball: Who to start, who to sit from the Athletics vs. Mariners games in Japan

For more Fantasy baseball insights, and to keep up with all the latest news, roster trends, and more throughout the season, subscribe to Fantasy Baseball Today now on iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify. You can find us on YouTube now, with full episodes and clips available every Monday through Friday.

Your Mariners and Athletics have a distinct advantage in Week 1 (March 20-31), provided your league's Week 1 includes the two-game series in Japan set to begin Wednesday at 5:35 am ET.

And if you've already drafted, why wouldn't it? The whole season should count, darn it. It's not like you couldn't change your lineup later. The only "locked" players would be the ones on those two teams.

No Fantasy GM should be denied a two-homer game for Khris Davis or a gem from Marco Gonzales. You make the investment, you reap the rewards. It's only fair.

But back to that advantage: Because of that early series, those two teams would have six games in a modified Week 1 while every other would have three or four. So regardless of whatever pitching matchups their hitters might face when they return to the U.S., those hitters deserve preferential treatment when setting your lineups. Meanwhile, Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada are the only pitchers with even a hope of a two-start week.

It's a big deal and reason why you'll want to take a second look who you've positioned where before your head hits the pillow Tuesday night.

Of course, "preferential treatment" doesn't mean "automatic start." Not every member of those lineups is an everyday player, after all. So let's go through one by one and determine who's worth locking in for the next 12 days, at least as far as the typical mixed league goes.

Mariners

Expected to contribute in Japan

View Profile
Dee Gordon SEA • 2B • 9
Start or sit?Start
Though not with as much conviction as in years past, you most likely drafted him to be your predominant speed source, and the two extra games makes him a no-brainer in points leagues as well.
View Profile
Mitch Haniger SEA • CF • 17
Start or sit?Start
He was, what, your second outfielder taken? Don't overthink this.
View Profile
Jay Bruce SEA • RF • 32
Start or sit?Sit
Frankly, there's no guarantee he isn't the one who sits for Ichiro Suzuki's last hurrah, and while he does appear to be over the plantar fasciitis that wrecked his 2018, it may not be enough to salvage matchups against lefties like Chris Sale, David Price and Eduardo Rodriguez when he's back in the States.
View Profile
Edwin Encarnacion SEA • 1B • 10
Start or sit?Start
He's in obvious decline and may not be regarded as must-start all season long, but with six games on tap, the choice is clear.
View Profile
Domingo Santana SEA • RF • 16
Start or sit?Sit
I could be talked into starting him, especially since all the lefties in the Red Sox series only improve his chances of playing. But I'm still not convinced he'll be in the lineup for all six games, especially with Ichiro getting a ceremonial spot for the first two.
View Profile
Omar Narvaez SEA • C • 22
Start or sit?Sit
Not in a one-catcher league, anyway. It's still not clear exactly how he and backup David Freitas will divvy playing time, but seeing as Narvaez bats left-handed, those Red Sox matchups are ominous. Two-catcher leagues are a different story.
View Profile
Ryon Healy SEA • 3B • 27
Start or sit?Sit
He seems like a pretty safe bet to start all six games as the obvious fill-in for Kyle Seager, but he's also bad — and was against lefties last year, too. Desperation play only.
View Profile
Tim Beckham SEA • SS • 1
Start or sit?Sit
Oh, so that's who the Mariners are using at shortstop these days.
View Profile
Ichiro Suzuki SEA • RF • 51
Start or sit?Sit
Call it a publicity stunt or just a gesture of goodwill, but Ichiro is there for the pomp and circumstance and not his actual play. He's expected to cede his roster spot when the Mariners return to the States.
View Profile
Marco Gonzales SEA • SP • 7
Start or sit?Start
The Athletics can hit a bit, and the dimensions of the Tokyo Dome are small. Gonzales does a good job keeping the ball on the ground, though, and is one of just a handful of pitchers with a shot at two starts this week.
View Profile
Yusei Kikuchi SEA • SP • 18
Start or sit?Start
He looked competent this spring and figures to offer the Mariners some length. The possibility of a two-start week pushes him over the top.
Hunter Strickland RP •
Start or sit?Start
I'm actually fine with it, despite his unconvincing fit in the role. He's the undisputed source of saves in Seattle and will have two more shots at them than any other closer (apart from Blake Treinen) this week.

Others who may be 'locked'

View Profile
Mallex Smith SEA • CF • 0
Start or sit?Sit
He'll presumably take Ichiro's place when the Mariners return to the states, but the health of his elbow is a big "if" in what for him would be only a normal-length week.
View Profile
Daniel Vogelbach SEA • 1B • 20
Start or sit?Sit
It's between him, Bruce and Santana who sits for Ichiro and, later, Smith. Vogelbach is the least proven of the three.
View Profile
Mike Leake SEA • SP • 8
Start or sit?Sit
Useful with the right matchups, but a one-start week against the Red Sox isn't that.
View Profile
Felix Hernandez SEA • SP • 34
Start or sit?Sit
Have you seen his numbers the past two years?
Wade LeBlanc SP •
Start or sit?Sit
Ew, no.

Athletics

Expected to contribute in Japan

View Profile
Robbie Grossman OAK • CF • 8
Start or sit?Sit
He could get on base a lot at the top of a quality lineup. But it's his one and only strength, and you could probably do better.
View Profile
Matt Chapman OAK • 3B • 26
Start or sit?Start
Any concerns about his offseason thumb and shoulder surgeries he has alleviated with loud contact this spring.
Matt Olson 1B •
Start or sit?Start
Opening against two lefties (Gonzales and Kikuchi) is less than ideal, but you didn't draft him to sit him, especially not when he's playing two extra games.
View Profile
Khris Davis OAK • LF • 2
Start or sit?Start
Like you had to ask.
View Profile
Stephen Piscotty OAK • RF • 25
Start or sit?Start
You could make the case he was underrated in drafts, but even if he's normally a fringy starter in three-outfielder leagues, that certainly isn't the case with two extra games on the schedule.
View Profile
Jurickson Profar OAK • SS • 23
Start or sit?Start
Surely you can find a spot for him at one of the three positions where he's eligible. The volume this week will make up for whatever he lacks in impact.
View Profile
Marcus Semien OAK • SS • 10
Start or sit?Start
I guess? Look, you wouldn't sit Xander Bogaerts or someone equally studly for him, but two extra games is a nice boost, especially since the matchups against the Angels back home are pretty favorable.
View Profile
Ramon Laureano OAK • RF • 22
Start or sit?Start
He's exactly the sort of fringe player who stands out when there's a disproportionate schedule, especially since there are elements of power and speed there. (Maybe not in a three-outfielder points league.)
View Profile
Mike Fiers OAK • RP • 50
Start or sit?Start
Probably worth it just for the likelihood he makes two starts. You hope for the "boom" end of boom-or-bust, and the matchups allow for it.
Marco Estrada SP •
Start or sit?Sit
Too much "bust" here to hope for any "boom," regardless of how many starts he's making.
View Profile
Blake Treinen OAK • RP • 39
Start or sit?Start
He's the sort of closer you keep starting even when he has fewer games, so you certainly don't sit him when he has more.

Others who may be 'locked'

View Profile
Brett Anderson OAK • SP • 30
Start or sit?Sit
How does he keep getting a job?
View Profile
Frankie Montas OAK • SP • 47
Start or sit?Sit
Looks like he has a job following a terrific spring, but the big-league track record suggests this isn't the sort of gamble you take in Week 1.
View Profile
Jesus Luzardo OAK • RP • 44
Start or sit?Sit
Maybe in leagues that begin on March 28, this recommendation will be different, but since we don't know if he has a job yet, you can't risk it.
Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories